This is Canada’s weekend to celebrate our abundant blessings. God is good!
Even during the misery of the flu — amid the stuffiness, sore throat and headache, ribs sore from coughing, and the inability to sleep — there are things for which I am thankful.
Last night at 4 a.m. (technically I guess that would be this morning but it was still part of my night), I sat in my recliner, cuddled under a cozy afghan, and stared out at the well lit snowy landscape. Full moon had been just the night before, so it was still very bright. As I glanced up at it, I discovered a hazy lunar halo. Of course I had to wrap the afghan close and step out onto the deck to take photos. Yes, I know it wasn’t too smart, given my state of health and the -6 C chill, but I couldn’t let the opportunity pass.
Solar and lunar halos are fascinating. There are light cirrus clouds, hardly visible, containing millions of tiny ice crystals that refract and reflect the light. When I researched this, I learned these lunar halos are unique to the person seeing them…
“The crystals have to be oriented and positioned just so with respect to your eye, in order for the halo to appear. That’s why, like rainbows, halos around the sun – or moon – are personal. Everyone sees their own particular halo, made by their own particular ice crystals, which are different from the ice crystals making the halo of the person standing next to you.” *
Had I been sleeping soundly, I would have missed this special phenomenon that was uniquely mine.
“O give thanks unto the LORD, for he is good.”
January’s full moon is known as the Wolf Moon, or sometimes the Snow Moon, although the latter is more often attributed to February’s. Winter moons often seem especially clear when seen during a crisp cold night, but thanks to the high cloud, this one was hazy.
Still, it brought to mind the haunting tune and words of the Huron Carol:
’twas in the moon of winter-time
when all the birds had fled,
that mighty gitchi Manitou
sent angel choirs instead;
before the light the stars grew dim,
and wondering hunters heard the hymn:
“Jesus your king is born, Jesus is born,
in excelsis Gloria.”
Christmas is well past, but the miraculous news will never be outdated: Jesus is born! This winter moon provided the perfect opportunity to reflect on what our Christmas celebrations were all about.
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One thing I love about living on the BC south coast is having four distinct seasons. I can’t envision living where it’s green and warm all year ’round. Granted, I don’t enjoy being too hot in summer, or too cold in winter (or constantly wet in spring and fall), but I love the variety each year. Just when the status quo begins to get tiresome, everything changes.
Last week, on one of our showery days, I discovered leaves were beginning to fall. Smatterings of gold and brown scattered over slick grass and shiny pavement.
My first reaction was surprise, followed by regret. How can the season of sunshine be ending so soon? I’m not ready to say goodbye to shorts and sandals weather, or the lazy, unscheduled days of summer. But what I want doesn’t much matter to Mother Nature. If change is due, change will come, and like it or not, it’s that time of the year.
I’ll adjust. Oh, I’ll probably grumble a little, but before long you’ll notice I’m raving about autumn’s changing colours and the fresh, crisp edge to its shortening days. Thanksgiving will come, and the Surrey International Writers’ Conference, which is always a highlight of my year. I love autumn!
Life is full of changes but there is also continuity. I like the saying, “When God closes a door, he opens a window.” If we’re fixated on the closed door, however, we won’t notice the window opening.
In our church, an August day brought the devastating news that our pastor’s wife had suddenly died. Amid the shock and sadness, our Vacation Bible School needed to carry on. Now that September’s here, groups that were dormant through the summer must refocus and begin again. Where needed, other people are stepping in to take up tasks to which they will bring their own unique abilities. Ministry will continue, albeit in different ways within a hurting community. We will be more prayerful this fall, and hopefully more aware, more loving.
Changes happen. After the hurt begins to ease, a season of healing will come. God is always faithful. A new season always comes.
“Know therefore that the Lord your God is God,
the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love
with those who love him and keep his commandments,
to a thousand generations.”
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I’m convinced He does … do it on purpose, that is. With the arrival of every spring season I comment constantly on the wonderful progression of new colours.
Winters on the southwest coast of Canada aren’t extreme, and, while my lawns may remain green throughout, full of moss as they are, deciduous branches everywhere are bare. The woods are stark, the marsh beige and lifeless. The underbrush along roadsides is brown with last summer’s dead grasses and ferns, and rain falls frequently, dampening everything to a grey sodden mess.
Out of the dirt and winter debris of our late January garden poke spiky little green tips from which nodding white snowdrops emerge. On our property they are always the first hint of the coming new season. They’re delicate … a quiet transition from the winter landscape. From then on, we start discovering a green haze that begins to spread through the woods and gardens. I love all the new greens in their fresh shades of lime and harlequin and chartreuse playing among the darker evergreens. Every spring I exclaim over how many different shades of green there are.
Suddenly I begin discovering splashes of non-green and white shades. Mostly yellows and pinks and purples. Hellebores and Daphne. Crocuses, Daffodils, Forsythia. Cherry blossoms and Magnolia. (Not all in my yard, you understand, but throughout the community.)
I’m convinced God intended this succession of colours and blooming times. It’s as if He knew we needed a gradual handover from bleakness to beauty, testing and tantalizing our senses with pastels before the bold and brash colours are ready to burst upon us.
Tulips and Iris, and the dependable Rhododendrons and Azaleas are just arriving now … later springtime surprises. It’s wonderful! God is much better at planning the seasonal colours than I am at planning a story. He’s such a well organized artist!
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The winter solstice happened this week. The shortest day of the year is now behind us.
We spent several hours on the road Monday, transitioning from the damp and balmy west coast into the brisk and snowy east Kootenays. There is no doubt we’ll be having a white Christmas.
As the sun slowly appeared over the mountain beside our daughter’s home, we marvelled once again at the exceptional beauty of God’s creation.
Outside the family room window there is a patio bordered by trees, and every day dozens of birds arrive, flitting from the branches to feast on what they obviously consider a gourmet granola meal that is always provided for them. On our first morning here I counted nine different species in less than an hour!
God provides for all of his creatures … these birds, and us. It’s Christmastime — in fact, today is “Christmas Eve Day” — and we’re full of praise and thankfulness for Him who was born this night to provide for us and our salvation.
The angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God.
(I’ll be taking a break from blogging next week. I wish each of you a joy-filled Christmas, and a New Year filled with good health and many blessings.)
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Our family circle is smaller now, but heaven is brighter because of the arrival of my Aunt Norma.
May 9, 1923 – January 8, 2015
She was a remarkable woman. I’ve posted about her and some of her achievements before…
The month after her husband died, she established a Flickr account, and over the past ten years she has posted over 3000 images and developed precious cyber friendships in many countries around the world. When the publication of her book became a possibility three years ago, she undertook blogging. Today I posted a last message for her at ‘Noni Grace: Random Thoughts and Reminiscing‘, and her son also posted an announcement on her Flickr page, Norma/Nonie Vogue.
We’re richer for her presence in our lives; we’re saddened by the loss; we’re comforted by wonderful memories of her strength, her life and her faith.
“Then the way you live
will always honour and please the Lord,
and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit.
All the while, you will grow
as you learn to know God better and better.”
[Colossians 1:10, NLT]
“For he loves us with unfailing love;
the Lord’s faithfulness endures forever.
Praise the Lord!”
[Psalm 117:2, NLT]
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